Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wake up call

I had lunch yesterday with someone who is 5 years out from a diagnosis of a virulent stage 4 large cell lymphoma. She was given very little chance of survival but she is here and healthy. She said that both of us had wake-up calls (although her wake-up call was much, much louder)and she wondered what I have learned from this and how am I going to do things differently. Hmmmm..gee I don't know. I am trying to be healthy, running more, eating less junk and more good stuff, trying not to sweat the small stuff (trying..)not putting off pleasures now that I might not have in the future. I asked her how she's changed. Basically not wasting time with anything that doesn't give her pleasure. She is a very blunt person.

As for the lessons learned from cancer, I still am too much in cancerland to sort out my feelings. As many of you have recently said of your own experiences (hello Alli), I am not glad I had cancer and I am suspicious of those that say they are. Maybe they mean that they are happy that they are alive. That I can understand.. There is a book out there "How cancer made me a shallower person" that I want to read. Unfortunately the author is dead. Cancer made her a dead person. One of my favorite blogs is 'positives about negatives." She has put together alot of the research about triple negative breast cancer in one place. One person on the met boards (I feel guilty reading these as I fortunately do not belong)took issue with the name. She is dying from TNBC and obviously can find nothing positive about 'the negative'. As for the 'positives' (estrogen negative vs estrogen positive breast cancer) there are two: you don't have to take nasty anti-estrogen medication and if you survive 3 years, you're home free whereas the positives have to sweat it out longer. Of course the catch is that in the first 3 years, the chances of mets are much higher and tend to go in more dangerous places such as the brain and lungs instead of the bone. Also the average survival time of those with TNBC mets is exactly half of that of estrogen positives.

In my advanced French class, we had to read Voltaire's Candide. As it was written in 18th century French, it was not an easy read. In the story, all sorts of gruesome disasters befall Candide but he is continually reminded by his mentor Dr. Pangloss that all is for the best as they live in the best of all possible worlds. The book was banned for its anti-religious tone. Its message was that bad things do happen to good people and it is not for a good reason. If only life was fair...

Right before meeting me, a fox came up to within 20 feet of my friend while she was playing golf. Cool, I stupidly said. Not cool at all, it was probably rabid!

I had my own wildlife encounter today while running. An enormous hawk (got to check to make sure it wasn't a golden eagle)sat within 10 feet of me at eye level on a fence. I stopped my run (didn't want to scare it with all my arm flapping-a runner yesterday remarked to me as we passed each other that I was really flying-I thought she meant my speed but now maybe she was referring to my arm motion) to observe it. It didn't seem scared of me but it was being attacked by a red wing blackbird whose body was maybe one twentieth its size. I have been attacked by them too-they will defend their nest to their death. It attacks by fluffing up my hair with its claws. Now that I don't have hair (or damn little)that would even be less fun. Those blackbirds are fearless.I did have a female cardinal the other day fly at my face veering away when she was only a foot away but I don't think she did it on purpose. Her mate begins his loud cheerful song at 5 each morning.
Birdy, birdy, birdy! Birdy, birdy, birdy! That's my wake up call. As I type this, he is right outside my window with his birdy song.

I had lots of wildlife encounters running in Italy, notably the wild boars. (cinghiale) After the first time, I researched to see how much my life was in danger as I recalled the deaths of Rachel's pathetic brothers by boars in the Thornbirds. Not much though they can gore legs. I ran almost every morning on the side of a mountain, on one side the mountain and woods, on the other a steep drop-off and farmers' fields. The boars would spend the night rooting the fields returning to the woods in the morning when I encountered them. There was a short stone retaining wall lining part of the road. I was hoping that they couldn't jump that. It was a Roman road still lined with their cryptic markers-2000 years old.

I later had a pleasant Happy Hour with Brenda. Two dollar gin and tonics and we could sit outside. The wind yesterday blew the mosquitos away but now it is calm and they can be their annoying selves. She has much more flowers than me and has several pairs of hummingbirds that routinely visit her.Then Martha came over to my house with raspberries and visited for a while. She would have brought borscht but I am not a beet fan. I don't care how good they might be for me.

It was a Farmer's Market day so I bought a few very cheap perennials to increase the diversity of my rock garden which is going to sedum and sedum. Spent almost 2 hours pulling some of it out to make room for my new purchases.

I am about to go to my cancer cooking class with Marilyn. Haven't seen her for a while so it should be fun catching up. She was diagnosed the same week as me with TNBC.


Beth said...

Hi Sue. I think the lesson I'm learning from cancer is to take the time to enjoy the things around you (the flowers, a good cup of coffee, $2 gin and tonics!!).

Teri B. said...

Do you remember riding your bike out to "Silver Lake" (one of the "silver lakes"_ and hitting a stretch of road where you would be attacked by a crow? He would go for the hair, as I remember it...Any recollection of this insanity?

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

The Dexter Road "crow' was indeed a red wing blackbird and it got me at least twice. Every time I come back from Josh's, I am reminded of it. When I took Bot-Zoo 106 in the summer of 1972, we went to the botanical gardens to mark off their nests and territories. When the dominant males (harem animals-big red patch means more females) think you are too close to their nests, they attack. It gave us a big clue where the nests were and the female (which looks like a large sparrow) would fly off at the last second. Our enthusiam waned for this project when someone came across a Massasauga rattle snake.


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